School 33 puts together fine group show

June 05, 1991|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Sun Art Critic

A juried group exhibition can be a ho-hummish affair. A mixture of familiar and unfamiliar names, a couple of works by each of too many artists, visual cacophony.

School 33 has done better than that with its "Spring 1991 Juried Exhibition." Kellie Jones, New York curator and art critic, chose just four artists, giving each some depth of exposure and the viewer a chance to concentrate. She picked good artists, too.

Diane Kuthy's oils on paper resemble abstracted landscapes, in which surface layerings and richness of color produce a romantic, poetic sensuousness. There is a certain mystery to them, like the mystery of an old wall whose stains and cracks bear witness to times past but still with us. They are surfaces up to which swim hints of lives otherwise unseen. They suggest, however, not angst or alienation but the remembrance of brilliant days and soft nights. They may even be a bit too rich and sensuous for their own good, but they communicate, among other things, a pleasure in the act of painting that translates into a pleasure in the act of seeing.

Cynthia Hawkins' five panels are taken from the series "Creed of Athanasius and the Temple Curtain." Each consists of a large geometric shape, a triangle or a circle, floating on a background of similar or contrasting color. Although the name

Athanasius suggests the Christian religion, these large paintings are more generally than specifically contemplative. The best of them, "#6A," has a subtle interplay of whites and grays, and markings which grow gradually more evident as one looks, suggesting a meaning that cannot be deciphered.

Robert Salazar's composite photographs present individuals with multiple limbs -- three or four or perhaps even more arms and hands. This is more than just a visual trick,

however. The gestures of these limbs, in concert with the face of the subject, give a clue to the person behind the facade: thoughtful, resigned, determined, obsessive, self-absorbed, longing. This kind of thing has its limits, but they are not overstepped here.

Leslie Zelamsky's installation of six pillarlike verticals made of stacks of flat pieces of wood invites multiple readings. Think of them as pillars and they and their space become templelike, a place of hierarchy and ritual. As simple examples of building, putting one piece of a material on top of another and fitting multiples together until an enclosed space is achieved, they bring to mind the beginnings of architecture. In the way these four-sided objects are assembled, touching and interlocking at certain points, but separate, too, and in the way they resemble but are not identical to one another, they suggest personal relationships, clusters of dwellings, communities. And simply walking among them gives a certain quiet pleasure.

Upstairs in the installation space, Alex Nosevich's "Heroes" has to do with "the War hero and the open highway . . . two Post-War American icons that over the years have fallen from grace in our society." Nosevich integrates these neatly by choosing a World War II hero, Col. Henry Mucci, after whom a Connecticut highway was named. But his idea looks too cramped in this space -- it ought to be developed more fully in larger quarters.

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